Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Audio Beaverhausen: Barbra Recycles with Partners
Babs recycles her songs once more on Partners (sort of a follow-up to 2002's Duets). Yes, it's a duets album (not titled Duets II because Duets was a disappointment commercially) but duets are very en vogue now. The problem with this album is the very concept is tacky, self-aggrandizing and... the duet with dead Elvis? Oh, please, Babs, you need to stop! That is karaoke with an orchestra. Karaoke on crack!
"Love Me Tender" is the 12th and final cut on the album and it's so incredibly, blindly self-absorbed, I could only laugh at this duo with the deceased. Talk about bad taste, people! Must be heard to be believed. Of course, Babs' voice is the one to open the song.
The album opens with "It Had to Be You," nicely arranged to a boffo finale. This duet is with Michael Buble. "People," with Stevie Wonder, is indeed very pleasant. Though one of the dangers of doing songs from one's youth late in a career is the unfavorable comparison that can be drawn. In Streisand's case, the vibrato that has replaced the strength and control in her voice is noticeable. While it's only natural and to be expected, why showcase it?
As this vanity project of standards continues, the rewards diminish and it feels tiresome and repetitive. "Evergreen," sung with co-producer Babyface, is a big misfire that only made me nostalgic for the original version. Call this one "A Bore Is Starred." Make that two bores, actually.
It's a mystery why singing "New York State of Mind" with Billy Joel is a bombastic bummer and "The Way We Were," co-starring Lionel Ritchie, is so badly arranged.
Other Partners in crime include Blake Shelton, Andrea Boccelli (Streisand is no match here, belt as she does), John Legend, Josh Groban (actually, their strong "Somewhere" boasts the best vocals on the album). And, once more, Jason Gould (her son, singing "How Deep Is the Ocean" in Oedipal rapture) is featured.
In my interviews with recording artists, I frequently ask who their idols and inspirations were when they were growing up. Streisand's name frequently comes up. Streisand would likely answer the same way.
As far as I'm concerned, Partners is a big flop despite some rich orchestrations. Hopefully, La Streisand will return soon with an album on which she stops recycling, and returns to us refreshed.